BANGOR – Outstanding women in their schools and communities from across the state are getting a unique opportunity to learn about different levels of government in Maine.
They are taking part in a week long program at Husson University called Dirigo Girls State.
“There’s really a great energy,” says Andrea Stairs-Davenport, Education Director for Dirigo Girls State. “Highly intelligent, highly motivated young women this week here at Husson.”
These rising seniors selected for the program are getting a crash course on government and citizenship.
Some of the women had just one word for this one-of-a-kind experience on Monday.
“Wonderful. Very fun and just exciting,” says Olivia LaRoche, a participant. “It’s really fun to be around smart people and smart women.”
Olivia, who wants to combine her passions for the environment and law, joins a handful of women taking part in these simulation models of local, county and state government throughout the week.
Groups were focusing on town hall styles of government on Monday, getting the chance to run for positions like moderator, town clerk and select persons.
All while seeing how the election process goes.
“It’s definitely a lot of fun,” says Elizabeth Walker. “I was very nervous coming into it, but i’m very excited now, it’s a great time here.”
Andrea Stairs-Davenport was a Dirigo Girls State delegate back in 1989 and is currently serving her 25th year as a counselor to these women.
She says she wants them to understand they can get involved in many different levels of government.
Stairs-Davenport also shared some advice for these future leaders.
“If they just are themselves this week then they will be successful in whatever they do,” she says.
Participants will also hear from state leaders throughout the week, including Maine senators Susan Collins and Angus King as well as Governor Paul LePage, as they share advice to the women that may fill their shoes in the near future.
“It makes me really proud and i always look for them next year as seniors,” says Stairs-Davenport. “I watch for their names on the news and in the newspaper because i know they are going to do great things.”
“I’m having a great time,” says LaRoche, “and i think everyone should do it if they have the opportunity to.”